Savoring Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Oscar’s: A Culinary Journey to Remember

I don’t know about you, but I love Vietnamese cuisine. I spent two weeks in Hanoi, and it changed my life for the better. From Bahn Mi to Pho Chien Phong, you name it? I absolutely love it! So, when Conrad Centennial Singapore and Hilton Da Nang announced Taste of Vietnam, their new menu at Oscar’s, I jumped at the chance to try it. By no means am I a Vietnamese food connoisseur, but after my trip to Hanoi, I have gained a great appreciation for the cuisine. It’s pretty hard to find authentic Vietnamese food in Singapore, but the food at Oscar’s scratched the spot for me! As I’m sure it will do for you! 

Their menu is presented by Chef Khoa Nguyen Dac and Chef Tin Nguyen, who both hail from Hilton Da Nang, Vietnam – so when I say this is authentic as authentic can be, I mean it. The menu offered so much more than just your typical Pho or Bahn Mi. They had dishes that I’ve been dying to have again ever since I came back from Vietnam! Ultimately, this was a win, but if you need more convincing, let me let you in on our food coma-inducing experience at Oscar’s!

Vietnamese Beef Salad

Savoring Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Oscar's: A Culinary Journey to Remember: Vietnamese Beef Salad
The best way to start your meal!

To start us off easy, we went for the Vietnamese Beef Salad. One of the things I love about Vietnamese dishes is how deceptively plain they look, but as soon as you have your first mouth, you’re hit in every direction with flavour! The Vietnamese Beef Salad was incredibly refreshing and had strong hints of pineapple and coriander – which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, but what is Vietnamese cuisine without heap loads of coriander, right?

I was pleasantly surprised when I took a bite of the beef and found it so tender that it melted in my mouth. The tricky part about cooking red meats like beef is that they often become tough and overly chewy very quickly. So, I appreciate the care and scrupulousness that went into ensuring that the beef was cooked to perfection.

Pair the deliciously tender beef with the freshness of the salad, and you have a great starter that’ll ease you into your meal! 

Assorted Fresh Spring Rolls 

Savoring Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Oscar's: A Culinary Journey to Remember: Assorted Fresh Spring Rolls
Fresh Spring Rolls are more complicated to make than one might think

Whenever I go to a Vietnamese restaurant, I have to get Fresh Spring Rolls without fail. I once took a cooking class in Vietnam and found this dish much more challenging than one might believe. Even when I tried to make it at home, I failed miserably. The rice paper is not the easiest thing to work with, so my heart goes out to all the chefs who have perfected the art of making a fresh spring roll, including the wonderful and talented chefs at Oscar’s!

The dish came in an assortment of three, and all three were to die for. It was hard to pick a favourite! The Vegan Fresh Spring Roll didn’t contain any meat (of course) and just boasted the typical red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, lettuce, cucumber and rice noodles. Although it may sound bland, it was so fresh! It was a great palate cleanser throughout the meal as we ate more flavourful dishes. 

Next was the Pork Spring Roll, a typical find in any Vietnamese restaurant. On top of the vegetables, this spring roll had a chunk of prawn and pork stuffed inside. It was a mouthful, but this was great! One bite of this, and I was back on the noisy street sides of Hanoi devouring an entire plate of these bad boys. 

The last of the three was the Duck Spring Roll, which I had the honour of trying for the first time. It’s not every day that you come across duck in spring rolls, but it worked so well that I was shocked I hadn’t tried one of these before! The duck was incredibly juicy and had a strong flavour that complimented the vegetables—it was a match made in culinary heaven!

All three spring roll variations were wrapped in this magnificently chewy rice paper blanket! As someone still mastering the craft of making this deceptively “easy” dish, the only thought I had was how they managed to soak the rice paper so well to achieve that sticky yet smooth texture. But, I suppose a good chef never reveals their secrets, so for now, as I work towards getting this craft right, I’ll have to rely on the gifted chefs at Oscar’s – but hey, I’m not complaining! 

All the spring rolls were cut into tiny bite-sized pieces as opposed to the big chunks of spring rolls you usually find. This made it incredibly easy for us to pop them into our mouths and go back for seconds (and thirds, and fourths)!

Vietnamese Pho

Savoring Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Oscar's: A Culinary Journey to Remember: Vietnamese Pho
There’s nothing more comforting than a hot bowl of Pho on a rainy day

Of course, Oscar’s can’t claim to have a Vietnamese menu if it doesn’t include everyone’s favourite dish: Pho! The weather couldn’t have been more timely, seeing as it had poured right before we reached, and Pho was the only thing we needed at that moment. The noodle bar was located outside the main area of Oscar’s, and we watched as the chef expertly put together a bowl of hot and hearty Pho.

Inspired by his mastery, I assembled the perfect spoon of Pho – noodles, a little bit of green onion, a shred of white onion, bird’s eye chilli and soup – and we were ready for takeoff! The mission? Obliterate my tastebuds – and I’m happy to report that the operation was a resounding success!

One spoon of Pho was enough to warm my insides from the torrential rain we had previously been caught in. It was every bit as fragrant as it was flavourful! The rice noodles were soaked in the aromatic and savoury broth, which elevated the entire dish. When personalising the dish, I did away with the lime, added bird’s eye chilli and some light soya sauce to the soup, and let it stew in there for a while. This helped to add more taste and heat to the already flavourful broth. 

Overall, it was about the best and most authentic Pho I’ve had in Singapore! 

Bahn Mi

Savoring Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Oscar's: A Culinary Journey to Remember: Bahn Mi
I’d choose Bahn Mi over burgers any day

Another classic Vietnamese favourite is Bahn Mi! I once heard a rumour from my Vietnamese friends that McDonald’s is so unpopular in Vietnam because everyone would rather choose to eat Bahn Mi over a burger – and I completely get it. But this just shows how much of a staple this dish is in Vietnamese cuisine, which meant the stakes were high for Oscar’s to make a flawless Bahn Mi. But they unsurprisingly delivered, yet again!

The Bahn Mi was made with pork, pate, pickled vegetables, basil and coriander. The last step was to slather on some mayonnaise and chilli sauce to complete the dish. The bread was crunchy on the outside but still pillowy and soft on the inside – it was toasted impeccably! 

The coriander and basil complimented the taste of the pork and the pate well; the freshness of the herbs boosted the savoury flavour of the proteins! The coriander and basil also helped to give the whole dish a clean and refreshing finish and added to the dish’s crunchy texture. I especially loved the mayonnaise and chilli combination because it was deliciously creamy! 

Wok Fried Pork with Betel Leaves

Savoring Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Oscar's: A Culinary Journey to Remember: Wok Fried Pork with Betel Leaves
Better than I could have ever imagined

Next up was a Vietnamese dish I had never tried before! Introducing the Wok Fried Pork with Betel Leaves. I initially hesitated to try this because of what I’ve heard about betel leaves. Apparently, they’re incredibly bitter and peppery – which is not a taste I’m dying to try. But, I was dedicated to providing you with the most comprehensive culinary guide. So, I plucked up the courage and downed it at one shot. 

My bravery was rewarded by a burst of savoury juices from the pork, and thankfully, there were no bitter flavours to be detected as far as I could taste! The pork was just oozing with flavour, and the betel leaves were more refreshing than anything else. 

It stood atop a mountain of rice noodles, mint, pickled vegetables and peanuts – decorated with tomato ketchup. I gave it a good mix, and it was delicious! The pickled vegetables and mint helped balance the pork, and the peanut added texture. After the first few bites, the ketchup did make the dish a bit too jelak – but that’s on me. I seemed to have gone too crazy with the ketchup. If you’re like me and not a fan of tomato sauces, I would suggest taking it out of the rotation, but besides that, this was a great first impression of this dish!

Marinated Pork Skewers and Galangal 

Savoring Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Oscar's: A Culinary Journey to Remember: Marinated Pork Skewers and Galangal
The Marinated Pork Skewer with Galangal was marinated to perfection!

The Marinated Pork Skewers and Galangal reminded me of a Vietnamese version of Satay—it was served with peanut sauce and all! One bite was all I needed because the skewer just exploded with taste. For all those of you who aren’t quite sure what galangal is, it’s similar to ginger but tastes more peppery and earthy and has the slightest hint of a bitter finish. 

The pork skewer was generally very juicy and had a very bold taste. From the taste alone, the pork skewer was marinated very well and evenly with galangal because it housed an incredibly bold flavour.

In all honesty, I’m not the biggest fan of galangal because I generally don’t enjoy its earthiness, but this was a completely different story. The boldness of both stars of the dish didn’t upstage one another but instead worked together to put on a culinary performance that deserved a standing ovation. 

Grilled Lobster with Shallot and Peanut Sauce

Savoring Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Oscar's: A Culinary Journey to Remember:Grilled Lobster with Shallot and Peanut Sauce
I usually avoid Peanut Sauce, but this was just amazing!

Next on the menu was the Grilled Lobster with Shallot and Peanut Sauce. I don’t usually fancy peanut sauce because I fear it may be too dry and overwhelm my taste buds, but I don’t think I could have imagined this dish without it! 

The peanut sauce was anything but dry and had an incredible aroma and taste on its own. I seriously could have had it without any accompaniment—and that’s exactly what I did. Don’t hate it until you’ve tried it because it was just that good!

Never would I have imagined I would describe grilled lobster as creamy, but I can’t think of a better word to describe it! It was heavenly! I could tell that the grillmasters knew precisely what they were doing – too much time on the grill, and the lobster could have come out very dry and rubbery. But the lobster had a very buttery texture that just made it melt in my mouth – which was an absolute win in my eyes!

Khuc Bach Sweet Soup

Savoring Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Oscar's: A Culinary Journey to Remember: Khuc Bach Sweet Soup
I’ve been reunited with my one true love!

As if the authenticity of this whole menu didn’t already blow me away, this dish was the home run! When I went to Vietnam, my local friends gave us Khuc Bach Sweet Soup, and it was love and a first sip. I kid you not; every day for the two weeks I was there, I had to have a cup of it. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever had in Singapore. It came with cheese, matcha cubes, and longan – I was infatuated. It was the perfect drink to beat the hell-like heat in Hanoi. 

But as soon as I landed back in Singapore, I couldn’t find a Vietnamese store that sold this liquid gold! No matter where I looked – and trust me, I searched high and low – I had no luck finding it. That was until I stepped into Oscar’s. I was reunited with my one true love. I even called up one of my Vietnamese friends to make sure I was looking at the right drink. 

Because it had always come in a cup, I had no idea it was called a sweet soup! As soon as I got my confirmation, I scooped myself a bowl. The dish was inconspicuously disguised as water, but it has this sweet taste that isn’t too overbearing or too underwhelming – it just hits the (dare I say) sweet spot!

The charm of this soup is that you can have it plain or adorn it with whatever you wish! I decided to stay true to what I had in Vietnam and added the regular cheese and matcha cubes plus the longans, but I couldn’t help it, so I tried the chocolate cubes too. Although they weren’t as soft as the ones I remembered having in Hanoi, they still tasted just as I had remembered them.

I cannot stress enough the satisfaction that came with that first sip. Like in that scene in Ratatouille, when Anton Ego had a flashback to his childhood, all the memories of Hanoi came rushing back to me at bullet speed. Suddenly, I wasn’t sitting in a fancy restaurant; I was at the back of my friend’s motorbike, with the wind blowing in my hair and no care in the world. It speaks volumes when food can unlock memories for you – and I only have the wonderful chefs and Oscar’s to thank.

Taste of Vietnam at Oscar’s

This experience at Oscar’s was so much more than a culinary experience; it was a transformative and nostalgic experience for me. Anyone who’s been to Vietnam will agree that it’s a struggle to find authentic Vietnamese food in Singapore – but the search can be called off! Here’s our answer and the ultimate winner: Oscar’s! 

Whether you’ve been to Vietnam before and have been ravenously craving that familiar taste, or if you’ve never been and just want to know what the hype is all about, Oscar’s is a must-try restaurant that will satisfy all your cravings – that I can confidently vouch for! Unfortunately, we will only be able to enjoy the taste of Vietnam for a limited time, so please don’t hesitate any longer! Make sure to head over to the official Oscar’s website and make a reservation ASAP

🗓️Date: 13 May to 9 June 2024
📍Location: Floor 1 Conrad Centennial Singapore, Oscar’s, 2 Temasek Blvd, Singapore 038982

  • Mondays & Tuesdays: $86++ (Adult) / $43++ (Child aged 6 to 12 years old)
  • Wednesdays to Sundays: $98++ (Adult) / $49++ (Child aged 6 to 12 years old)

⏰Opening Hours: 6pm to 10pm

Photos by Eshani NJ of the DANAMIC Team. Additional visuals courtesy of Conrad Centennial Singapore.

Jillian Metta Lau

Bookworm by day, concert maven by night, and an avid dreamer longing to trade pages for passports and explore the globe's symphony of cultures.

Related Articles

Back to top button